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Cat Deeley Remembers “SYTYCD” Colleague Stephen 'tWitch' Boss as a 'Charming, Gentle Giant' (Exclusive)

Ahead of the season 18 premiere of 'So You Think You Can Dance', host Cat Deeley tells PEOPLE the late dancer, producer and DJ "was such a good example of having a passion"

<p>Brett Cove/SOPA Images/Shutterstock; Jason Mendez/WireImage</p> Cat Deeley and Stephen tWitch Boss

Brett Cove/SOPA Images/Shutterstock; Jason Mendez/WireImage

Cat Deeley and Stephen tWitch Boss

So You Think You Can Dance host Cat Deeley is especially thinking about Stephen “tWitch” Boss this week.

As season 18 of the Fox dance competition's premieres, the beloved Briton is reflecting on her time with tWitch and telling PEOPLE she misses his warm presence on set most of all.

“He was one of the most genuinely charming, gentle giants of a man you could ever hope to meet,” says Deeley, 47. “You only have to look at his legacy to see how the show really does work and how if you don't do it the first time, you come back and you try again.”

Related: Cat Deeley Says Stephen 'tWitch' Boss Will 'Forever Be Part of Our Family' at So You Think You Can Dance (Exclusive)

<p>FOX via Getty</p> Season 17 SYTYCD cast

FOX via Getty

Season 17 SYTYCD cast

Nearly 15 months after the former SYTYCD contestant–turned–judge died by suicide at age 40 on Dec. 13, 2022, Deeley recalls looking back at where he dancer began and being impressed with the career he built and the obstacles he overcame.

“He was such a good example of having a passion but not necessarily being technically trained,” she says. “He tried out three times. He tried out, he got ‘no’ twice, and came back. And he didn't win, but he went on to have this amazing career — he was on Ellen [DeGeneres's talk show], he was in Magic Mike.”

Allison Holker Boss, tWitch’s wife and mother of their three children, is on the judging table for season 18, and Deeley says she's keeping her late husband’s legacy alive.

“She's an incredibly talented dancer and she's a great mom and just a great woman,” she affirms of the 36-year-old author. “She's incredibly strong. And what surprised me most about it is how open and honest she is. When anybody talks about tWitch, whatever anybody wants to say, she's just, she's very open.”

Related: Allison Holker Says tWitch Will 'Forever Be an Icon' After Emotional SYTYCD Audition Inspired by Loss (Exclusive)

<p>Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage</p> Allison Holker and tWitch

Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage

Allison Holker and tWitch

Allison also started her career as a dancer and choreographer on the SYTYCD, participating as a contestant in season 2 and returning in season 7 alongside tWitch as an all-star, Deeley explains that having her expertise along with her willingness to be open about tWitch and her grief will be impactful on viewers.

“The more we open up that dialogue, us being on TV, the more people will open up that dialogue at home too, I hope,” she says. “The more people that do that, the less tragedy we'll have I think. I think the minute you talk to anybody, and that's whether it's family, friends, a therapist, whoever it is, the guy in the coffee shop — sometimes I've had conversations with people out of nowhere — you just either feel better or a problem's not as big.”

She continues, “The more we can all talk to each other, the better it is for everybody, and she's definitely, definitely a shining example of that and she's taught me that.”

Related: Allison Holker's Daughter Weslie Honors Dad Stephen 'tWitch' Boss on Anniversary of His Death: 'Missing You'

<p>Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty </p> Cat Deeley at FOX Winter Juncket

Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty

Cat Deeley at FOX Winter Juncket

Deeley’s favorite thing about the long-running competition series is that it teaches people how to be better in so many ways. She says she appreciates how honest contestants are when sharing who they are — even their faults and their mistakes.

“The things that make you different, those are the things that make you interesting as human beings,” she says, adding. “That's quite often why the people who didn't win the competition, there's something about them that shows and then they go on to even more success.”

Related: Cat Deeley on 'Teddy Bear' Maks Chmerkovskiy Joining SYTYCD: 'He's a Big Softie' (Exclusive)

In her personal life, Deeley shares that she tries to prioritize the quality of her time with her family, even if that means waking up an hour earlier for her self-care or making more to-do lists than she knows what to do with.

“When I'm there, I'm in the moment and I'm fully invested in the moment, because otherwise you end up doing nothing very well,” she explains. “It's about the prep that you do beforehand. So then if I'm with my boys, I'm with my boys. If I'm with my husband, I'm with my husband. If I'm with them on stage, I'm on stage. That's the best way I can possibly do it.”

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So You Think You Can Dance airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.

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